Bioethics is a field of applied ethics which involves ethical issues related to living beings and concerns three broad areas namely medical ethics (health care, health science, and health policy), animal ethics, and environmental ethics. It involves not just doctors, but patients,scientists, activists and policy makers and public at large. The increase of the importance of bioethics can be attributed primarily to parallel and exponential increase of science and
technology that allows for interventions at biological levels that are at the same time highly ambitious and startling. Technologies like CRISPR which enable gene editing can give humans the power to optimize the genetic makeup of their progeny like editing an image on photoshop (in aesthetic detail). The skepticism and self-reflective pondering arising out of such power created the increased space for the discipline of bioethics. Another reason for the increase is the information revolution propelled by cybernetics that can spread awareness about things faster than ever before, it allows for organization of people across different communities and societies creating active organizations like PETA and International Bioethics Committee. Some of the protests that we often witness against the use of genetic
crops and the thriving of a niche market catering in ‘organic foods’ is a manifestation of such activity, though the demands made by such groups may sometimes be anti-scientific and irrational.
One bio ethical issue of eminence in recent times has been abortion in special circumstances when conditions of Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 are not
allowing abortion. The matters have gone to court and the judgments have been widely reported in press. In one case, a 24-week pregnant woman facing danger to her life due to abnormality in fetus was granted permission to terminate her pregnancy. As per Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, a woman has right to terminate her pregnancy till 20 weeks if certified by doctor to do so in interest of mother / fetus. Beyond 20-week permission in this case was based on the doctor’s report which said that there was very little chance of survival of the fetus and the lady’s life would have engendered if it was not aborted. The court interpreted the same as right of the petitioner to preserve her life. Thus, courts have taken a different stance in case of abortion by minors on case to case basis. We also see that the topic of abortion occupies a lot of debate space in political communities in countries like USA and Ireland.
For any country to survive and prosper there should be a continuous growth, optimal utilization of resources using state of the art technology and reduction of economic disparities so that all sections and regions of the country contribute to its growth. It is even more a necessity for a country like India where a sizable population lives under poverty line,there are problems related to basic amenities and there are disparities between sections and regions. The panacea to all these problems is sustainable inclusive growth where the government has an important role to play. To achieve this purpose, efficient, honest and dedicated working of the State machinery is necessary. Growth is possible and sustainable only if there is the presence of ‘good governance’ and one most basic requirement of good governance is corruption free working in public offices.
There are two fundamental ways to ensure probity Intrinsic motivations: The value of probity can be permanently instilled through the intense activity of inculcating true inspiration in an officer to work for the well-being and upliftment of the people who have been placed under his responsibility and the people at large. One must be genuinely motivated to overcome the narrowness of one’s individual interests and desires and see oneself as carrying out important work of nation building the incentives of which are well-being and gratitude of posterity.
Extrinsic motivations: Other steps which include ensuring transparency, accountability and answerability of the officer can be ensured by making a procedural and legislative system of checks and balances which minimize corruption e.g. RTI, Lokpal, E-governance, Prevention of Corruption Act, CAG, CVC. Improvement in incentives and remuneration are further steps to ensure probity. Technological advancements also can be utilized strategically to achieve the abovementioned objectives. The officers will be encouraged to participate in a systemic exercise of probity if they feel that the system acknowledges and appreciates their effort rather than blocking it out, thus the personnel should be attended with comradeship in times of distress by her colleagues.
You are the Secretary of a State IAS Officers Association(SIOA). Recently, a
senior IAS Officer posted as Chairman of the State Staff Selection
Commission was arrested in connection with a question paper leak scam.
Following his arrest, many IAS officers have approached you to organize a
collective action to seek justice for him. They are proposing that an
emergency meeting of all members of the SIOA be convened and a
systematic plan be formulated to help the senior officer before he suffers
further victimization at the hands of the politicians and police. Suggestions
being made include an appeal to the Governor, forming a human chain at
the Raj Bhavan etc.
How would you approach this situation and what would be the main
elements of your suggested solution?
(200 words – 20 marks)
I would strongly discourage the officers from taking any such steps and urge
them to let the law take its course. They must not forget that a scam has occurred
and that it is their duty to cooperate with the authorities to ensure that
accountability is enforced.
The main elements of my actions would be:
i) The allegations regarding victimization of the arrested officer at the hands of
the politicians and police reflects a lack of trust in the IAS cadre towards
parallel institutions of the State. This further weakens public trust in the govt.
ii) If their concerns regarding the harassment of the officer are justified, it is their
duty to ensure that institutional changes are incorporated in the govt. to
ensure that nobody, including him, can be similarly victimized. However, they
have no right to interfere in or manipulate the due process of law.
iii) The proposals being made reflect an unhealthy bias by the IAS cadre towards
its own personnel, on extremely subjective grounds. It would be pertinent to
point out that similar suggestions are not made when the trial of a dishonest
officer is being unduly delayed or diluted.
The leader of a prominent social group has been facing trial in a criminal
case. The court is expected to deliver the verdict in two days. Ahead of the
verdict, a large number of members of this group from various parts of
State have flocked en masse to the city where the court is located. They
threaten to go on a rampage if their leader is convicted and jailed. They
have started camping in the city, along many roads and in various public
parks. There are reports that the followers may be stocking up on arms,
petrol and blunt weapons. The rampage threatens to spill into the
neighbouring States also.
You are the Chief Secretary of the State.
i) What are the measures you will take to ensure that there is no disruption of
public order, regardless of the verdict?
ii) What intervention would you consider to prevent any similar mass hysteria
in the future?
(300 words – 25 marks)
This case present ethical issue where a section of society following a cult blindly,
which led to the formation of negative attitude against that State, and which in
turn may guide undesirable behaviour. Change in attitude is beyond the scope of
this question but should be a long term strategy.
Myself i.e. as Chief Secretary
Followers of the cult
Society at large
In this situation, a civil servant not only apply her administrative skill but also
aptitude, emotional intelligence, foundational values etc. Since followers of cult
gathered includes women, children and many good people came in blind faith,
any violent repressive action would be detrimental. At the same time, those who
are with arms & ammunitions and gathered to violate law & order should be dealt
with sternly, ensuring minimum damage to loss of lives or properties.
Following measures must be taken:
Talk to prominent leaders of the cult and request them to maintain peace.
Reach out to all political parties requesting them to not issue any controversial
statements on the case.
Prohibitory orders to be imposed across all relevant districts in the State
(Section 144) to ensure that there is no build up of crowd.
Sealing of State borders and suspend the rail/road service to ensure cult
supporters from gathering as well as safeguarding passengers and property.
Suspend mobile Internet services and bulk SMS services to disrupt any
moves to organise and coordinate violence on a large scale.
Keep the general public aware through regular briefings on the situation
through regular media and social media.
Coordinate with the administration of the adjacent states to prevent violence
from one state spilling into another, and set up joint control rooms if
Call required number of companies of paramilitary forces to assist the police
forces in maintaining law and order.
Deploy drones to keep an eye on the situation.
Search & seizure operation to ensure that no arm & ammunition remains with
Preventive detention of elements known to be prone to violence.
Awareness campaigns must be run to ensure people don’t blindly follow any
cult, and so they learn of exploitation of followers happening behind the
In many cases, blind followers of such cults are those belonging to the socially
and economically disadvantaged, looking for an identity. Addressing their
basic grievances may help them from getting induced into these cults
Proceedings in serious accusations of crime, like that of rape, especially
against leaders of such cults should be expedited as they have ready access
to large number of potential victims. Allowing them to function due to political
reasons will only help increase their charisma and power projections.
Lessons should be learnt from such incidents and Standard Operating
Procedures (SOP) may be prepared so the administration is more geared up
to tackle such situations in the future.
Due to many political-social-economic issues prevailing in society, these
unethical practices are prominent where people are used as means by cult
personalities to achieve their end goals. Immanuel Kant states that it is immoral
to use another person merely as a means to an end and that people must, under
all circumstances, be treated as ends in themselves.
As Swami Vivekananda said “The awakening of masses must come first then
only can any real good come about for the country”. The state with the assistance
of society can foster and promote the common interest of people, which can bring
justice, honesty, peace etc
A close friend of your joins a reputed construction firm. He is assigned to a
project under which the company is building a flyover in a metropolitan
In his very first week on the job, as he inspects the construction designs,
he realizes that there is a potentially dangerous flaw in the design, which so
far has gone unnoticed. He informs his immediate superior about this, who
agrees with his assessment. But since it was the superior who had passed
the design in the initial stages, he tells your friend not to reveal this to
anyone else otherwise the company would punish him severely. He further
assures your friend that his silence and cooperation in this matter would be
handsomely rewarded in the future.
Your friend is very worried about what to do next and approaches you for
a) What arguments can you advance to show him that keeping quiet is not
b) What course of action would you advise him to adopt and why?
(200 words- 20 marks)
I would tell my friend that keeping quiet in these circumstances is not only morally
wrong but also amounts to a dereliction of duties, given that any damage to the
flyover could cost precious human lives. I would advice him not to keep quiet
i) It amounts to a violation of public trust, since he is knowingly placing their
lives at risk.
ii) It reflects moral corruption, since any such action would be in expectation of
career benefits for himself.
iii) It is vital to enforce accountability on the superior, since there may be other
projects that have been similarly compromised- due diligence must be
ensured there too, which can be initiated only when this serious error is
Thus, I would advice him to begin by explaining to his superior that no damage
has been done so far. At the moment, it is only a design flaw, which can be
rectified with the investment of time and money. The superior may earn a
reprimand or penalty from the company. But any such punishment would be
considerably mild compared to the punishment he can expect if the flyover
collapses and people die. Further, admitting that he erred right now may earn him leniency in any disciplinary proceeding, but wilful deception is likely to increase the nature of penalties.
If the superior refuses to cooperate or attempts to threaten my friend, I would
advice him to approach the superior’s superior with the facts and ask him to
intervene. If he faces opposition from the firm’s senior management too, he has
the option of bringing the matter to the attention of the concerned govt authorities
and seeking corrective action.
Yes, I agree. The structure of an organization comprises the rules and
procedures on the basis of which it is created and functions. A good structure is
necessary for better performance, but is not sufficient. Rules and procedures can
be effective only when interpreted and implemented in letter and spirit. This
cannot be mandated by the structure but is influenced by the organizational
Organisational culture refers to the common understanding among its members regarding the objectives of an organization and their role in achieving them. It is culture that determines the manner in which regulations would be interpreted, implemented or violated. In the absence of a good culture, a structure by itself would have limited value. E.g. the 42nd Constitutional amendment, which
threatened to weaken the very foundations of the Constitution, was brought about
by a negative culture in the Union leadership.
Therefore, if organisations focus on a good culture, the structure would be able to
achieve its intent in letter and spirit.
Accountability is necessary for better governance but not sufficient. It has some
fundamental limitations which can be overcome only by performing our duties
with a sense of responsibility. Such limitations include:
i) Difficulties in constantly monitoring the various activities of subordinates.
ii) Accountability can consider quantity but not quality. In situations where
discretion is involved, accountability is of limited value.
iii) It is vulnerable to the risk of collusion.
Due to these limitations, accountability remains effective only till supervision is
maintained. It needs to be supplemented by self-regulation, which is driven by a
sense of responsibility. Therefore, to address these issues, it is imperative that
we use our discretion/judgment in deciding how best to perform our duties in a manner that promotes public welfare. This can only come from a sense of
responsibility and devotion towards public welfare.